Maria Quiban Whitesell greets millions of Los Angeles viewers daily each morning as FOX11’s meteorologist. Prior to joining the Good Day LA/FOX 11 Morning News team, she was the chief weather anchor for the Orange County News Channel, and before that, meteorologist for NBC Hawaii News 8 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Emmy Award-winning news anchor and broadcast meteorologist is also familiar to many around the world from her appearances in film and television including Clint Eastwood’s Bloodwork, Bruce Almighty, Stepbrothers, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, and many others. The Whitesell family, including Maria, her late husband Sean, and his brother Patrick, are among the big entertainment families in Hollywood, and Sean was a writer and producer for television shows including HBO’s Oz, Fox’s House, and AMC’s The Killing.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact! Podcast. I am John Shegerian. This is a very special edition. I am so honored to have with us today, Maria Quiban Whitesell. Thank you for being at the Impact! Podcast today, Maria.
Maria Quiban Whitesell: Oh, thank you. It is so great to be here with you. Thank you.
John: Well, you know, Maria. First of all before we get into everything we are going to go into day, I just want to share with our listeners a little bit of your background. You are a broadcast meteorologist in the greater LA area, very well known. You are an author. You are a mom and you are also a sort of very new freshly minted Lola.
Maria: Well, yes, and for those listeners who are not familiar with that word Lola, which I do consider to be quite a sexy word by the way.
John: It is.
Maria: It is the Filipino word for grandmother.
Maria: So yeah, I love that moniker and I love my grandkids, by the way, which we can talk about.
Maria: Very proud of them, and yes, I have a very young beautiful family that my older son has. Yes.
John: Might be, I have a Guinness cup holder this podcast. You might be the youngest, youngest looking Lola in history. So whatever you are doing, you are doing it right. That is all I know. That is all I know.
Maria: Thank you.
John: Yes, you are Filipina and I happen to be Armenian, and I think immigrants are naturally very connected to one another through DNA, culturally speaking. You know, we all have these similar traits. We eat when we are happy, we eat when we are sad, we eat when we get emotional. This food is so much important part of everything. Our spiritual life is important.
I would love for you to share how you came to America at 10. I know you grew up in Cebu or you were born in the Cebu area in the Philippines, but how you came at 10 and you may have made such a fantastic career for yourself.
Maria: Well, thank you. First of all, I have a friend that I work with, her name is Araksya and she is Armenian-American as well. I have just, really through her, have gotten to know the Armenian culture and we are so alike and similar in so many ways. The Filipino culture and Armenian culture, I love it.
Maria: I went over to her family’s house and talk about the food situation. Not only do we, as cultures, love to eat, but we love to feed other people, you know. It is an insult if you do not eat –
John: So true.
Maria: -the food that is served and suggested. It is like, “No. No, I am really not that hungry.” I would not eat this and it is a giant plate of food. So yeah, we are very alike in that sense.
John: So true.
Maria: My immigrant story, and I am so happy to say that my mother, who was also very young and it is kind of ironic in a sense I suppose, because her story is eerily similar to mine in the sense that she became a widow at such a young age. My birth father, when we were living in the Philippines, died in an accident. I was seven years old at the time and my mother had my brother and I. My brother is about a year and a half younger than me. So, she was devastated because she was 28 years old. She was very young.
Maria: Yeah. Luckily for my mother, she had a huge family. Her sisters- she had a bunch of sisters. I think there were ten of them all together, her and her siblings. At that time, she had several sisters living abroad- everywhere actually. One was living in Tokyo, one was in California, one was in Hawaii and one- I cannot remember exactly where they all were at the time. But I remember she had a sister that lived in Hawaii and we would see them often when they would visit us when we were kids in the Philippines, but she wanted to have a different life for us at that time and just wanted to start new.
So, my aunt helped us a lot. I remember that. We moved to Honolulu and that is pretty much where I spent my elementary, intermediate high school, and college years. So, I kind of grew up a little bit in Cebu and then, a lot in Hawaii.
John: Wow, and then when did you come over to California?
Maria: California? Well, speaking about family and how close we are. Right?
John: Yeah, yes. Yes!
Maria: It is our DNA, in our culture. My mother in Hawaii- by the way, met a wonderful man who became my stepfather when we were about, I think I was about 13 I want to say. He is, I believe in my heart, my birth father reincarnated. I am so happy to call my dad, Papa. John is his name is well.
John: Wow! Okay, I like that.
Maria; Yeah. I had like to say that my birth dad was looking out for my mom and was looking out for us and brought this amazing father for me, my brother, and husband for my mom. They’ve been married ever since. So my dad, as I lovingly call him, worked for United Airlines at the time and so he flew a lot. His job took him to California and here in the Los Angeles area. So, he worked in the management office and so he was able to actually fly back and forth to Hawaii to visit me and my older son at the time, which we will get into a little bit later.
My mom and I, we are so close and she really missed me. So I said- oh, she said to me, “Why do you just do the weather here in LA?” At that time, I was already working as a meteorologist for the NBC station in Hawaii. I said, “Okay. Sure, Mom. I can just get a job in LA just like that.”, because you know I feel like it, right?
Maria: Yeah, so she goes- well, you know what? They were living in Orange County at the time in Seal Beach. Well, actually there is a small little station here in Orange County that is a good 24-hour news channel. “Why don’t you see if you can get a job there?”, and I said, “Okay. Well, I am perfectly happy here in Hawaii. But okay, I will prove it, just leave me.”
So, I gave a call to the news director at the time and he said, “You know what? We are actually interviewing for meteorologist. So, why don’t you come in and interview?” and I said, “Okay. I am going up to visit my parents.” And so, I went in for an interview and he offered me the job. So, I just I could not turn it down. Now, afforded me the ability to live once again very close to my parents, whom I am very close with.
So, it was actually a really good job opportunity too. I would have been making more than I was making in Hawaii and very quickly moved to Los Angeles to work for the a Fox station. Hereafter, I spent about two years at the Orange County News Channel.
John: Good for you. So, that was around- what year was that approximately?
Maria: So, I moved to California in 1998.
John: Got it.
Maria: And worked at the Orange County News Channel and then, an agent saw me at the Orange County News Channel. Her name is Karen Wang Laval who was amazing for me at the beginning of my career and she said, “You know, I would like to represent you.” It was not long after I moved to California and she got me an interview at the time, it was a channel 13 stations, who is the sister station to Fox 11 here in LA.
So, I got the job and I have been working there ever since. I have been in the Fox station since 2000.
Maria: I have been there for over 20 years.
Maria: I know.
John: Good for you! That is amazing. That is a lot of longevity in any industry. In any industry, that is a lot of longevity and success.
Maria: It is and I am so grateful for it. Because as you know in our industry it is so competitive, particularly in front of the camera in the news and media. So, I am just, I am really truly grateful for the opportunity to continue to represent diversity on the air and our community, as well, and to just have a really great time.
John: It is really great.
Maria: I love my job! I get to connect with so many people. So, I am just so happy.
John: That is just wonderful. And then, where in the journey did you get to meet your husband, along the way, your husband, Sean?
Maria: Well, my husband, Sean I met in 2003 and by that time, I was already divorced. I was a single mom. I had my older my older son, Desmond. At a very young age, I have to say that he came when I was in high school and you know, sometimes things happen.
Maria: I definitely am one of those people where even though I took the precautions, even though I was educated about birth control and all that stuff when I was 17. You know, taking the pill is not a hundred percent.
Maria: And so you combine that with a seventeen-year-old teenage maturity level.
Maria: Things happen. And so, I found myself pregnant in high school, the year before my senior.
Maria: Yes, my last year in high school.
John: Oh, my god!
Maria: I know. My mom was- needless to say, at first, very disappointed in me, because I had these huge plans.
Maria: You know, every Filipino knows that you are either going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse. Yes, you know, your whole career planned out.
Maria: I was not going to be following that because actually I wanted to go to law school.
Maria: I wanted to do all kinds of things, actually. But, you know, things happen and I believe that some things happen for a reason.
Maria: And so, I was there and I was presented with new challenges. I could not have gotten through raising my son, Desmond without my parents. I am eternally grateful for their help. So, I was able to go to college. I was able to pursue my dreams.
I got married to Desmond’s dad, but we were both in high school. And so, anyway, we tried to do the right thing.
Maria: But we realized soon after that we were too young to have gotten married. We were divorced before we were 21.
John: Got it.
Maria: So, fast forward to to Los Angeles in 2003, I was a divorced single mom.
John: Unbelievable. And also had a career. You are a career mom. You are a career mom too.
Maria: I was a career mom.
Maria: Yes. Yes. So I really, I did not give up on my dreams. When I went to college, I remembered the dream that I had since I was a child, which was actually to work in front of the camera. I remember vividly in the Philippines watching Sesame Street, and I would run home from school and turn on this box, this television and was just obsessed with the feeling that I got when I watch TV, but specifically Sesame Street. So, there was a character on there- if you remember, her name is Maria.
John: Yes. Yes.
Maria: I thought, “Wow, look at her. She is brown like. She has got dark hair like me, and she gets to play with all those puppets.”, and you know, those amazing characters and bring joy to people watching. I wanted that job and I remembered that feeling and that desire when I was in college. So, I fell upon the broadcast journalism department. So, it was between acting- any while when we do something in front of the camera.
Maria: And so I was doing some acting lessons and classes and things, but I knew I could not major on that. So I majored in broadcast journalism, and then the rest is history. I just- I loved what I am doing now with the weather. At first, I thought it was going to go into the news and and cover the big stories of the day. But, I remember being sent to like a story with a homicide or something, the dead body on the side of the road and sugarcane fields, I just did not, like it made me so sad. It made me really, really just depressed and unhappy. I just thought, I cannot do this for the rest of my career. It is just not in me.
Maria: When my producer suggested the weather, I just fell to it. Like, it was just a great fit.
John: Got it.
Maria: So, yeah. So, I am sorry I deviated, but here I am.
John: No, it is good. No, the journey is important. The journey is important. So now, it is 2003-ish and you were introduced or you met Sean, along the way.
Maria: I did, I did. So, I was entrenched in my career, I was happy, I was working at the number one, really, show at the time, specially in Los Angeles. So, I was really happy with my career and my singleness. Although, I wanted to have a partner for the rest of my life, I did not have that need to feel like I need to get married and have kids and all that kind of stuff.
So, when I met him I was in a really good place in my head, in my heart.
Maria: And so, it was kind of a setup, I suppose. A colleague of mine and her boyfriend at the time was throwing a dinner party and that she suggested that, “You should come to this dinner, Maria.” Yeah, and I said, “Oh, I am not going to go because it is just the couple.” You know, I do not want to be a third wheel.
Maria: I do not had a boyfriend. I do not have a date. So. we somehow convinced their other colleague who was another anchor and he was so game for anything. He goes, “Okay, I am not anything on Saturday. Let us go! Let us go!. And there we go. We go to this dinner and it almost happen that I was not going to meet Sean. Because at the end of the night, we are about to leave and apparently, yeah, my friend’s boyfriend at the time said, “My brothers are coming over.”, after the dinner that they were throwing.
Maria: And so I went, “Oh, okay, that is why I was supposed to come.” So, all of a sudden I hear this loud- very loud voice who has come into the house. The loudest one of them all was Sean and he just made a beeline to me. I think he kind of knew that I was going to be there too, I am suspecting. We just we hit it off really and just, we are together ever since.
John: Instant chemistry, and that was it. That is great.
Maria: Instant chemistry, yeah. I am not going to tell you it was love at first sight, because you know, it is like-
John: But, chemistry though! Chemistry is good enough.
Maria: Yeah. Most definitely there was chemistry. Yes. Yes. Yes.
John: Perfect. So, life went out. How long until you guys got married?
Maria: Well, we dated for a little while. There was even the obligatory break up for a few months, like almost a year.
Maria: And then, we got back together better and stronger than ever. We worked out our issues and we got married in 2009.
John: Got it. Got it. So, then fast forward, you are married and you had a baby together- a son named Gus.
Maria: Yes. Yes. Sean had never been married before and never had children. And so, when he met the love of his life, he would say, “You know everything just kind of fell in place.” When we were trying to have our own child, we were having some difficulty because we were older by that time.
Maria: Again, luck would have it. We tried so many different things, including IVF and you know all of the help of doctors, but nothing worked. So, we kind of resigned ourselves to you know, just us. One day at a Lakers game, I think I had a little too much to drink and wanted to continue to party at home. Boom! That night, Gus was conceived. I will never forget it.
John: Wow, and what year was Gus born?
Maria: He was born December in 2010, the following year.
John: Got it. Got it. So, he is born December. So, Gus is now ten years old, right now as we speak.
Maria: Ah, no! He is almost ten.
John: Almost ten.
Maria: He is nine. He will be ten this December, yes.
John: Wonderful. So then, so now your marriage is going on, everything is great. You have a little baby in the house. Life could not be better. Share a little bit about now, what were going to talk about today and how your journey with, that is going to be describing.
By the way, if you just joined us right now. We are with Maria Quiban Whitesell. She has a book out called, “You Can’t Do It Alone”. We are about to get into that part of the journey. You can find it at youcantdoitalonebook.com or at Maria’s website, mariaquiban.com. M-A-R-I-A, Maria. Quiban, Q-U-I-B-A-N.com
Before we get into the book, talk a little bit about then, what happens next between 2010 and 2015?
Maria: So by that time, we were really truly living our happily ever after. We were working. We were working parents. We, you know, live for the weekends with Gus and we were busy. We had realized that we had not gone on vacation, ever, just the two of us, Me and Sean.
Maria: So, by this time, yeah, Gus was three years old. So much like many parents, you know.
Maria: So at this time, Gus was three and Shawn had turned 50 years old, and he has this young kid. For his birthday, his brothers gifted him- I would say us actually, because it is a gift to me too, I suppose. But they gifted us with an all-expense-paid trip to Paris.
Yeah, so we’ve never, we’ve never been- both of us had never been to Paris.
John: The city of lights and love.
Maria: Yes! So we were so excited, so excited. We we are going to have this incredible vacation and we just had not gotten away together in a very long time.
We both have been working so much, like literally he was a writer by profession and so he was writing on a new show and I was working on the morning show and juggling, you know with Gus and everything.
So, we went on this trip and my parents came here to be with Gus and so we felt very comfortable and so excited to be on this trip. It was on this trip that I realized something was terribly wrong with my husband. It was not just little things that I could right off anymore. In hindsight, now looking back to the previous year before our trip to Paris. I can now look back and see, “Oh! There were moments of odd behavior that I can attribute to what he was diagnosed with after our trip”
So, it was on this trip that I realized Sean was not waking up as early as he normally would. He wanted to sleep in. That is not his nature. He, typically, would have been up well before I was up, and he would have gone to the gym. He would have written at least, you know, three to five pages of work, at least read a book or something or even planned our itinerary, and he did none of those things on this trip.
And so, I found that very odd. And then every day we were on the trip, it seems his symptoms got worse. The idea of him not being able to call for a taxi for us-
John: Oh, boy!
Maria: -is so foreign because he is a person who lived in New York City for years and years. He would have had no problem hailing a cab anywhere.
Maria: And yet he was he was finding it difficult to understand the concept of hailing a cab. I can tell you humorous things that happen. And by the time we got to, basically, the end of our trip, I was in tears. I remember that and he knew something was wrong too. He did. But we never imagined that it would be what it was when we got back.
John: So, you saw that he was just clearly struggling and things- something was amiss. You did not know what it was yet, but something was terribly wrong.
Maria: Yes. Yes, something was wrong. I hoped for the best, always. I never thought the worst.
John: Listen, I have not met you, but just, everything about you, just your voice, your joy that comes across just across on the podcast. I am sitting here in Fresno, California. You are sitting in Los Angeles and your positivity, obviously is not something new. This is something you have always had. So you were thinking, “Okay. Maybe there is something wrong with him, but we could find out what it is and fix it and move on.”
Maria: Right. Right, right. That is what we thought.
John: So, talk a little bit about getting home from: Paris and going to the doctor’s and how things unfolded from there.
Maria: Well, I made him promise to see a doctor when we got back. He did, it took exactly two weeks from the time we landed. He saw the regular doctor who then refer you to another doctor and another doctor and eventually, he was referred to a neurologist who wanted to do a routine, sort of check on him. They thought maybe he was suffering from depression and may be varying levels of it his thyroid, you know things like that.
Because the blood work checked out fine. I remember the first doctor did a battery of blood work and tasks and he is like, “Everything looks fine.”, “On paper, I see nothing wrong with you.” And so, we just kept going to the next to the next specialist and exactly two weeks later, he got a call- a voicemail. Oh, I am sorry! He was referred to neurology and he was asked to take an MRI of his brain, because they thought they did not see he is suffering from depression.
And so after he got the MRI, few hours later, I guess, he got a voicemail message saying- from his doctor to immediately go to the Brain Tumor Center, the Brain Tumor Surgery Center in Santa Monica. We had to go there, like as soon as possible and it was an urgent call. I just remember him telling me on the phone and I was not far. So, I immediately went to meet him there and we were faced with these scans of his brain and we clearly saw these masses in his brain. He had several tumors in his head and the doctors were not very optimistic about his prognosis at that time.
John: What was his diagnosis exactly?
Maria: So, at that time, they believed it to be glioblastoma, which is a terminal incurable brain cancer and his was particularly, I think bad because they were so deep in his brain and they were so large. There was no chance of removing any of them and we really left with very few choices.
John: Okay, so glioblastoma. Being a layman and a non-medical person, what I know of it, but I want you to share really more about it, my memory, is that folks like John McCain, Gene Siskel, Beau Biden, Lou Rawls, people that I knew or heard of growing up that are in the public eye, they also died of that horrible disease. Share with our listeners, please Maria, what it really is, what do they know about it, and then, we could go more into your journey with Sean battling it. But, talk a little bit about what you were faced with and what you were told about this horrific disease.
Maria: Well, much like yourself, when I heard those words, glioblastoma, brain cancer, I immediately thought of you know, Senator Ted Kennedy at the time. [inaudible], who I was familiar with.
Maria: And I thought, “Well, I think this is something that affects much older people. I have very limited knowledge about it.” And so they proceeded to describe that it was a primary brain tumor, meaning it was just a tumor and a cancer that originated in the brain, would stay in the brain. It was not something like, you know, pancreatic cancer or any other kind of cancer that can metastasize or move to the brain. But, it was in the brain and they told us right away that there is no cure for this.
In fact, there has been nothing more, really, in terms of do standard of care, that was it, does not have many real advancement truly at that time for brain cancer. They were very honest when we asked what the prognosis was for him. And I just remember them asking first that if we had any children. Going back, even talking about it right now, I can go back to that little room that little [inaudible] room, in that hospital and I am starting to shiver, actually telling you this story.
Once they asked if we had a child or children, I just knew that the rest of what they were going to say was not going to be good.
Maria: And we said, “Yeah, we do. We have a three-year-old son.”, and I just remember their faces and how they immediately look down to the ground and I just thought, “Oh, God. No, please God.” And they just kind of shook their head and tried to be optimistic. He said, “With the standard of care, with the clinical trials that are out there right now, we could be lucky and maybe you could get eight years with Sean or five to eight years.”, and I was very lucky and I feel so lucky. What if we were unlucky, what would happen.
Maria: And they said, “Well, if you do nothing.”, meaning if you do not do the standard of care, which is really made up of a resection, which is removing the tumor, which already was not available to us. We knew. Then, he did the chemotherapy and radiation. But he said, “If you did not do any of that, from the looks of it, Sean would be gone within three months.”
I just remember holding onto Sean as if I was going to fall down, because I could not comprehend. It was almost like, I could see their mouth moving but I could not hear the rest of what they were saying after they said that. We left with the worst and best case scenario. We were hopeful and we never gave up hope, never gave up hope. Because there are some people who do live a long time with this disease and frankly, there are still anomalies on that risk. But we thought maybe that could be yes, maybe we could be lucky again. You know, we were lucky finding each other. We were lucky having Gus, and so maybe we could be lucky with this too.
We got exactly eighteen months with Sean from that day, got eighteen wonderful months. Yeah.
John: It is amazing how the brain works, Maria. You know hearing you talk about and being told that news and how the memory basically freezes everything and you could identify the room and how you felt in that room and probably everything in it right now. We probably cannot remember what we had for breakfast yesterday, but you could go back to that room at any time and you know everything that was in it, where the light switches, where the table was, how the papers were on. Everything from what the doctor was wearing to what you and Shawn were wearing; how life just gives us those certain moments where time stands still. Forever.
Maria: Yeah, it could bury. Yeah, it is buried in memory forever. Yeah.
John: Forever, forever. You know, this book here, which I am going to read a little something. Mehmet Oz, who is of course well-known doctor on television every day almost and and well-trusted, what he says here among all the other Rave reviews you got is, “Maria shares her path to balancing grief with the happy memories of her beloved husband. Her emotional journey will amaze you.”
I am amazed that you are even able to share the story today with me as vividly as you are and as clearly as you are. So, take our listeners a little bit into the next period, how did you and Shawn roll up your sleeve and face the challenges that were starting to come your way now, unexpected challenges that you are clearly, like nobody is prepared, for you guys were not prepared for, but you had to deal with.
Maria: No, we were not prepared for it. But I can tell you, with the title of my book-
Maria: -really says it all. You cannot do this alone. You cannot do life alone.
Maria: And for us, we definitely could not have done this alone, and we have our huge wonderful circle of loving family, our friend, my work family, and even my viewer- my family that watch me in the morning. You know, and without village, without the people around us, which includes our medical team and our therapists, it would have been a much more terrifying journey, and it was a terrifying journey. I just could not imagine how much more I could have been without all of them? Yeah.
John: And so, given your immigrant background and closeness to your entire family- extended family and immediate family, Sean sounds like he has also a very tight-knit and still has a very tight-knit family, friends viewers, like you said the village, got you through this.
John: Help you guys get through this.
Maria: They did. Sean’s family is amazing and they are fourth fifth generation- I do not know how many generations from their immigrant family-
John: Right, right.
Maria: -back from Ireland, generations ago. But you know, they grew up in Iowa and I like to say there is a lot in common with the Iowans and the Hawaiians, the people from Hawaii. There is a lot of vowels in this state, you know? Hawaii, Iowa.
Maria: But yeah, because the value of family and sticking together and doing everything what it takes to make it work, that was all in there and it turned really just- [crosstalk, inaudible]
John: How about Gus?
Maria: They are my family.
John: How about Gus? He was very young. How did you share the news with Gus and help him get through this very difficult period as well.
Maria: Yeah, he was the tough one, right? He was three at the time and kids are very astute, they are smart, and we do not give them enough credit.
Maria: They know. [inauidble] something is wrong. They know when something is not the same. So, we were always honest with Gus. I really have our therapist, our family counselor and our therapist to thank for helping Sean and I, not just as a couple, understand what we were faced with and what we were going to go through, but also help us find the language to tell a three-year-old and a five-year-old that his father had a disease. We used words like that. We did not say Daddy was sick.
Immediately when we got the news and I had enough sense to be honest with Gus, because I think of what happened to me as a child. It is interesting how life does prepare you for what comes later in life and be a kid at seven years old and finding out that my birth father died in a tragic accident was very traumatic for me and my brother. It was frightening. It was a terrifying time. I knew that I did not want Gus to feel that same kind of fear that I had at the time when I was a kid.
So, I can honestly say that I just tried to help him understand that he was safe and that we were all here for him to protect him and that we loved him and that nothing was going to change and we were just going to keep doing what you were doing. We are going to give Daddy the best medicine and doctors to help, [inaudible] disease get better.
John: How is he doing now?
Maria: You know, he is doing pretty good.
Maria: He is nine. I want to say that it was not without challenges. I do not want to say that it was perfect because it was tough at the time, like Gus particularly did notice that change like all of a sudden Daddy was not playing with him. He was not playing hard and rough and tumbling with him like he did before. And so, there were definitely stages where he was frustrated. And so, we just took the time to talk to him and therapy and it really does help. Like. having a therapist helped us understand it and help him understand through in games that were played through cards. They have a way of talking with children and us to help them understand and when he did, he eventually did understand and he became a helper.
He helped with so many things when it came to Daddy. Like, you know, helping with his IV even.
Maria: [inaudible, crosstalk] How to change the remote control for Dad? But, he did grow up a little bit faster as a result.
John: But then he felt a part of it and he was not an outsider just watching this movie happen to him. He was actually part of it.
Maria: Exactly. That is exactly right.
John: That is great.
Maria: For our listeners who just joined us. We have Maria Quiban Whitesell with us today. She is not only a broadcast meteorologist in Los Angeles area, but also an author who just wrote a book, You Can’t Do It Alone. We are talking about that book and you can find that wonderful book at amazon.com. Great Book Stores, youcantdoitalonebook.com or on Maria’s great website, which I am on right now. www.mariaquiban Q-U-I-B-A-N .com
Talk a little bit about, you know, ‘You Can’t Do It Alone’ is a fascinating metaphor for not only what everyone in the world is right now going through with this COVID-19 tragic strange weird time, but also for those everyone who is thrown some sort of curveball or another in life. Not as tragic as yours in many instances, let us just be clear. But, no one gets through this journey without hitting potholes and having rocks come their way. Those who are able to raise their hand and ask for help or lean on, as you said, a village, friends, family, colleagues seem to make it through better.
What can people expect from this very timely and important book that you have written, ‘You Can’t Do It Alone’, to help them make it through this pandemic, to help them make it through their crisis or tragedies or tough times, and also just to get through this journey of- and sometimes especially now with quarantine, what can feel like overwhelming loneliness?
Maria: Yeah. It is incredible, the parallel of what I went through, caregiving and also just the isolation that we felt sometimes, especially when Sean could not even leave the room at some point. We were quarantined as well because of his disease. I remember we had to wear masks at times because he had a very compromising system, and so it is strange how I still had the masks left over from that time. And then the pandemic happened and I just thought, “Wow. This is wild, that I am taking out these masks and wearing it today.” So, it just kind of hit me and brought me back to a little bit years ago.
But the loneliness that many people are feeling right now, I, first of all, feel so, so sad for those who have lost a loved one during this time of COVID. Not just the ones that have lost their loved ones to the coronavirus, how sad. But not being able to be with them in the hospital, not to be with your family, and not to have a funeral and a way to memorialize their loved ones is just sad. It is all happening now and so, I can definitely relate to the loneliness, the sense of having no power. You know, we are all sort of powerless in this situation.
And so, the book really does talk a little bit about that, about this powerlessness that we had during his disease. And what I learned is that you do have some power and we have the power to gain during the pandemic, to make some choices that can make a difference in our lives and we can reach out today. We have, thank God, technology, right.
John: Right. Right.
Maria: And we can find our village even if we do not have a circle of family and friends. Even if we do not have that, we can find the village and we can use technology, Skype and Zoom and research online and find that support group. I had a support group and during the caregiving time that I had with Sean, I found them through the UCLA Brain Cancer Caregiver Support Group and I got to say that, to this day, we still get together.
John: That is so nice
Maria: Yes. If you are listening and you feel alone and do not have a family, please, please know that there are groups, there are organizations that specialize in helping you find your village. There is Our House Grief Center, they are available. You can call your doctor and you can just do a Google Search and you will find them. Please reach out. If the first person is not the right fit, find the next one. You kind of have to go through several different ones until you find the right fit. And trust me, they are there. So, please do not go through this alone.
John: That is awesome.
Maria: We could not have. Yeah, so please reach out and find your village.
John: I am on your website, which I love and it is full of great information. For our listeners out there, you support many causes, the UCLA Brain Research Center, the American Brain Tumor Association, the Uncle Corey Foundation, Global Genes National brain tumor Society. So you are not only still getting through this, but you are also a huge ambassador and advocate now for education and more research.
John: So, that is just fantastic. Where are you now, Maria? It is x amount of years. Everyone processes. We are all different people and we process things, loss, and grief in so many different ways. How are you coping today? Because, I mean, still what you have accomplished, you know, if someone was 75 and they accomplished being a professional broadcaster, that is challenging. You are an author and now you are an author, a book that has gotten Rave reviews and is doing so well in terms of sales. Then also, you are a mom. You are a Lola. And, what is fascinating is you are a mom of different age ranges. So, you have got to adjust your mug your skills for different generations.
Maria: My mom says I should go into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the least sibling rivalry, because my kids are twenty-three years apart.
Maria: And it was natural. They are natural birth, the first [inaudible]. I think we did look it up. I think someone [inaudible] me. I think someone has an age range of twenty-five years or something. So, we go with that.
John: But, you are close. You are very close. Let us just say that.
Maria: They are close. I am close.
John: And how are you coping today? Like I said, you are so clear. You look for the joy, obviously. I could just tell in our conversation, you look for the happy in something. You look for the joy. How are you doing though, personally? How are you doing now?
Maria: Yeah. Thank you for asking me that. I have my days and I have my moments. I am doing good. I am actually doing pretty good today, and I really attribute that to the fact that I am talking about our book. I am talking about our story. And in doing so, I think that I am helping other people. If I can help others through their dark journey, it healed my heart. It really truly helps me to know that I have the sense of purpose.
When Sean was diagnosed with this disease, we asked all the questions of “Why? Why God did this happen to us?”, you know. We are Catholic. We go to church. We would try to do good things. I can only imagine that it is because, maybe this was part of our purpose. It was to write about it, write a story about brain cancer and maybe in some way, help inspire someone to find a cure, help others gain awareness about this disease, which gets very little funding by the way because it is not as big or as popular as the lung cancer. It needs federal funding so we can get a cure. This disease affects young and old, black or white, like it does not matter. It can affect you at any time in your life.
And so, I am hoping that with what I am doing and what I am advocating, that I can do our part to try to find a cure. I read a book by David Kessler, it is called ‘Finding Meaning’, and so it really resonated with me. Perhaps, this is part of my new moon and and what I am supposed to do in life.
So, how am I doing? I am good. We still go to church, of course. We have a very strong community that we have with our church and my son’s school. So, again part of my village and they make sure that we have something to do and we are always busy. I am even thinking about putting my foot in the dating world.
John: That is nice. Good for you.
Maria: Yeah, so it has been almost five years at this point.
Maria; And so, I still talk to Sean everyday. I do not ever not talk to him. I mean, why would I change my habit?
Maria: And so, I talked to him all the time and I know that he would want us to be happy. So, I really focused on that and I just tried to make him proud that we are living our best lives as best as we can.
John: Maria, I just want to say thank you for sharing your journey today and and your story. I know it is not easy, but your story will inspire everyone who hears it and help them get through whatever they are trying to go through. Your book, which is in my hand right here and I have gone through it. I have spent three hours with it the last two nights. ‘You Can’t Do It Alone’, I have to tell people, is so worth it. If you could buy it on Amazon.com or at at youcantdoitalonebook.com, or you could go to Maria’s site, mariaquiba.com. ‘You Can’t Do It Alone: A Widow’s Journey Through Loss, Grief, and Life After’
You are making amazing impact. You are truly inspiring, Maria. Thank you for joining us today on the Impact! Podcast and making the world a better place.
Maria: John, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you in person, one day.